Oh, David Byrne, you're the nuttiest of nuts. I was trying to fix my kookometer the other day and accidentally calibrated it to your latest record, Look Into The Eyeball, and it totally threw things off for weeks. You make our world turn cartwheels and you let the sunshine sing. If there were an award given for the quirkiest goddamn artist of the whole entire century, you would wear your styrofoam suit to the ceremony. On a scale of one to ten, one being sane and ten being quite the opposite, you are off your fucking rocker.

This, of course, is why we love you.

Was anyone paying attention to you during your last few years with Talking Heads? Did not enough people listen to Naked? Did they not hear what you were doing? That death knell for your hitmaking group was just the opening of a gate, a preview for the next 13 years of your solo career. The blind, or possibly just deaf, did not notice your solo days would be an experiment, a tour-de-force of African and Brazillian influenced pop music. But you haven't been entirely fair with us, have you, Mister Byrne? You never told us that the results were in.

Perhaps I shouldn't say "results." Perhaps this is more of a culmination. That makes more sense to me. You've been playing around with pop music for so long, you know what works and what doesn't. This is second nature to you, and, on your latest, it totally shows: if anyone else had the grit to lay down these tracks, they probably would've disappeared into happy obscurity. You, however, are cursed with recognition.

Is Look Into The Eyeball the most perfect piece of pop music ever? Looking at the sales, I'd say not. I doubt you got your much deserved radio play with the single, Like Humans Do. This is carefully calculated and strangely soulful music, my friend. How could you expect it to make it out in the big scary world of the American airwaves? Alas, I fear our country will never embrace you back into the mainstream. This speaks ill things indeed: I fear we will no longer see the people dance their quirky little dances on their way to work again. There will be no more dancing with the lampposts in the rain. There will be no more unicylcists on the commute, no waltzers in Grand Central Station. Your songs about the art and drama and beauty of everyday life are no longer welcome in this era of shock rock and teen dreams. What good thing has ever been welcome, though?

Do not lose heart, my friend! Your work here is tremendous! You've approached songwriting by building on the examples of others, tackling your tunes alongside a self-compiled CD featuring the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Björk, Isaac Hayes, Caetano Veloso, Tricky, Lambchop, Serge Gainsbourg, Silver Convention and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. Your inclusion of the Balanes├žu Quartet on many of the tracks was wise, as they happen to bring a strange sort of lilting, uplifting melancholy to your songs. Arrangements by Greg Cohen, long-time bassist for Tom Waits, for The Revolution and The Accident; soul legend Thom Bell for Neighborhood and Like Humans Do; Jacques Morelenbaum for Smile; and Tony Finno for the string side of my personal favorite number, The Great Intoxication, were all astounding and sage choices. You've got a whole bevy of talented musicians on these tracks as well: Shawn Pelton, Mauro Refosco and Paul Frazier laying it steady in the rhythm section, and even an appearance from ex-Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg. You've even got your very first completely Spanish tune, Desconosido Soy, accompanied on vocals by Café Tacuba's Ruben.

I'm not quite sure how anyone could mistake this for anything other than a pop record: all of the songs last between two minutes and four minutes and thirty seconds, which is, historically, The One True Pop Song Length. We've got your first and second verses, your choruses, your refrains, bridges, repeats, reprises. You've obviously finished your experiments evident in Feelings and davidbyrne. This is A Pop Record, and, once we've got that into our little heads, it makes it easier to write our own dances to the groovy percussiveness of The Moment of Conception; to hope for seduction to change the world like in The Revolution; to Smile, perhaps, and Walk On Water. This is your playground, your little perfect world, with no element out of place.

I have few complaints about this ride. When you offer up such deliciousness, such essentially well-constructed music, I can only ask for more: thirty-eight minutes is not an acceptable record length. The track order is a little off at times, and I have no idea why you chose to end the record with Everyone's In Love With You (a perfectly acceptable song that everyone has some level of identification with, but by no means a closer) instead of the superior Walk on Water, but I'm sure you had your reasons.

Mister Byrne, you make our flowers into fireworks. You bring a rhythm and passion to pop music that has been absent for an absurdly long time. Please don't let this be your last record. Please tell us you have more in store, that this is just a teaser. I know you may feel sorry or strange that these are, essentially, accessible tunes, but do not lose hope: these are sincere songs, and you are a gem, a jewel, a little slice of happiness in a mad mad world.

    Track List:
  1. UB Jesus (3:49)
  2. The Revolution (2:15)
  3. The Great Intoxication (2:36)
  4. Like Humans Do (3:31)
  5. Broken Things (4:29)
  6. The Accident (2:34)
  7. Desconocido Soy (2:38)
  8. Neighborhood (4:32)
  9. Smile (3:33)
  10. The Moment of Conception (2:55)
  11. Walk on Water (3:26)
  12. Everyone's in Love With You (2:27)
  13. Empire (Japanese only bonus track)
Released May 8, 2001.

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